In the article, published last week, author Peter Coy discusses the world’s slowing population growth, before suggesting that the “never-conceived are the ultimate forgotten ones”.
“A couple decides to have one child instead of two, or none instead of one. This happens all over the world. Billions of children are never conceived. How real is the loss of a life that never began? Is there a right to exist? Is there an ideal size of the world population?” Coy asks in the opening paragraph.
The author then goes on to cite various philosophers who have speculated about the world’s “ideal population,” before ultimately concluding: “The question of the ideal world population size may never be resolved by philosophers. But you don’t have to be a philosopher to think about the lives that never happened.”
On Twitter, where the story was shared by the official Bloomberg Businessweek account, it has been met with mixed reactions, with many readers mocking the concept and the point of the article.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, because life is a rich tapestry of the unexpected, but this may be the stupidest thing I will ever see in my life,” one person tweeted.
Another said: “This article should have stayed never-conceived.”
“Must be amazing reaching the status in a newsroom where you can pitch a story like this and nobody asks you how you're holding up with the divorce and all,” someone else joked.
Others took the opportunity to express their concern over other unborn creatures, with one person writing: “Think of all of the raccoons that will never be born. All of the pizzas that they will never eat. They are truly the forgotten ones,” while someone else humorously pointed out: “I don’t think this is business?”
The article also sparked criticism for being tone-deaf as it comes amid a global pandemic, with another person tweeting: “Oh yes, the never conceived. Truly it is they we should be mourning. You do realise there's a pandemic?!” along with the infamous gif of Kourtney Kardashian telling Kim Kardashian: “Kim, there’s people that are dying.”
While most people mocked the concept, others pointed out the issues in asking people to think about those that do not exist when there are “those who are here and living in abject poverty, oppression, abuse and misery”.
“Not some hypothetical being who never existed. Get a grip, Businessweek,” they added.
According to Bloomberg, the US’s population growth this year is likely to be the slowest since 1918.